Extracts of roots Phyllanthus acidus were examined by free zone capillary electrophoresis, micellar electrokinetic chromatography (MEKC), and MEKC using the sweeping technique which involves application of a negative potential to the inlet end of the capillary and very much longer than conventional injection times. The latter technique, using a buffer of 50 mM sodium dihydrogen phosphate (pH 2) containing 80 mM sodium dodecylsulphate and 30% methanol was found to allow complete resolution of the active constituents of P. acidus, phyllanthusols A and B, from each other and from other extracted components in under 30 min. Several other components could be detected when hydrodynamic injection times of 500 s were used. The separation, combined with an appropriate extraction procedure and using an internal standard of proguanil, permitted quantification of both phyllanthusols. Calibrations were linear over the range 2–8 µg/mL for phyllanthusol A, and 1–4 µg/mL for phyllanthusol B. Within-day and day-to-day repeatability RSDs were below 10%, and the precision of extraction RSD was around 14%. The limits of quantification and detection were 0.55 and 0.24 µg/mL, respectively. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.